Natalie Bispham

Spreadsheets. Nearly everyone has engaged with them in one capacity or another. They’ve become an almost ubiquitous part of our work culture. Even with countless apps and tools at our fingertips, the comfort of those classic rows and columns remains undeniable.

Whether it’s to chart out a new project or simply to note down fleeting thoughts, the reflex to open a fresh sheet is almost second nature to many of us. It’s almost a running joke in our team: “Another day, another spreadsheet!”

However, as we continue to evidence so many advancements in the world of technology, it’s worth pondering: What’s the deal? Why are we so drawn to spreadsheets? And more importantly, when should we look beyond the grid?

The Timelessness of Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets simply work. It’s like the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And honestly, when have spreadsheets ever let us down? They’ve been steady and reliable, even as other tech comes and goes.

They’re also super flexible. Whether it’s a small startup or a big corporation, everyone finds them useful. Need to plan a detailed project? Spreadsheet. Want to save that family recipe? Spreadsheet again.

One of the best things about them is the freedom they offer. You aren’t stuck in a specific format. Every new sheet is a blank slate waiting for whatever you want to put on it, whether it’s numbers, words or even charts.

You dictate the structure, the data and the design. 

When Spreadsheets Become Overwhelming

While we’ve sung praises about the many wonders of spreadsheets, it’s also true that they can sometimes become a double-edged sword. Their vastness and flexibility, while often seen as strengths, can lead to unexpected complications.

If any of the following scenarios hit a nerve, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about:

  • You kick off with a straightforward table for quarterly sales. Over time, this table expands with new columns, additional tabs and intricate formulas. One day, you notice an inconsistency in your totals. The cause? A mislinked cell deep within the maze. The resolution? Hours of troubleshooting.
  • You and Mark are working on the same project budget. Mark, from his desk on the fifth floor, updates a critical cost estimate. At the same time, you, from the cozy confines of your home office, adjust the project’s timeline affecting the same budget lines. The result? Overlapping edits, lost data and a scramble to determine the last correct version.
  • As you start your workday, you open “ProjectPlan_v3_final_EDITED”. By lunchtime, you receive “ProjectPlan_v3_final_EDITED_Latest”. By day’s end, there’s another version titled “ProjectPlan_v3_Final_TODAY”. Navigating these iterations becomes a task in itself, leading to confusion and potential missteps.

Exploring Alternatives

Alright, deep breaths. If those scenarios felt a bit too close to home, or even just reading them made your heart rate spike, know you’re not alone. And more importantly, know that there are alternatives.

While spreadsheets have been our trusty go-to for so long, there are tools and platforms out there specifically designed to tackle some of the challenges we’ve outlined. Let’s briefly touch on a few:

  • Content management platforms: Platforms like Brafton Content Marketing Platform centralize content planning, creation and analysis. This is especially beneficial for large teams or those spread across different locations.
  • Dedicated accounting software: For those financial sheets, programs like QuickBooks or FreshBooks can provide more specific, detailed and error-free accounting solutions.
  • Cloud-based collaborative platforms: Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) and Microsoft’s Office 365 offer cloud-based document collaboration, ensuring real-time updates and minimizing the risk of version inconsistencies.

How to Migrate Data

Deciding to explore alternatives to spreadsheets, or at least diversify the tools you’re using, often stems from realizing that as your data grows, managing it becomes more tedious. After all, what’s the benefit if, every day, you find yourself sifting through numerous spreadsheets, mixing up data and becoming increasingly stressed in the process?

The promise of new tools lies in more efficient features and smoother workflows. But how do you make the move without losing your invaluable data?

Transitioning can seem intimidating, especially if you’ve been deeply entrenched in the world of rows and columns for a long time. But with a bit of guidance, this transition can be less daunting:

  1. Asses your data:
    • Begin by understanding what you currently have. Which datasets are still relevant? Can anything be archived or deleted? Cleaning up now can simplify the subsequent migration steps.
  2. Choose the right platform:
    • Research to find the platform that aligns with your needs. Remember, each tool will have its unique strengths and capabilities, so choose with your specific needs in mind.
  3. Consult the training guides:
    • Most platforms offer guides or tutorials about data migration, especially for popular formats like Excel or Google Sheets. Use these resources to your advantage.
  4. Start small:
    • Before you move everything, try migrating a smaller dataset. This allows you to spot potential issues without risking all your data.
  5. Backup, Backup, Backup:
    • Always ensure you have a backup of your spreadsheet before any migration. Protecting your original data is crucial in case of any unforeseen issues.
  6. Seek support:
    • If the platform offers customer support, use it. They can often provide insights, answer questions and even offer migration tips.
  7. Review post-migration:
    • Once your data is in the new system, spend some time verifying its integrity. Check for any discrepancies or missing data.

Of course, the specifics of your migration process will vary based on your chosen platform. However, there’s one platform we can certainly vouch for …

Market Smarter With Brafton’s Content Marketing Platform

It’s fair to say we all acknowledge the staple that spreadsheets are. Yet, as the content landscape grows and demands more, it’s high time we adapt. That’s where we come in.

At Brafton, we’ve poured over a decade of expertise into our Content Marketing Platform. Serving more than 10,000 global users, we’ve ironed out the kinks in content management.

The Brafton Content Marketing Platform

Say goodbye to:

  • Lost emails in never-ending chains.
  • Tedious manual tracking of content.
  • Miscommunications among teams.

With Brafton Platform, you get:

  • Prebuilt dashboards for an at-a-glance overview.
  • Automated collateral archiving — never lose a document again.
  • Tailored workflows, because one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Precision in performance tracking.

Sure, spreadsheets (and a plethora of emails) played their part in building our platform. But we’ve moved past, and you can too. Dive deeper, embrace the future and while you’re at it, explore more of our helpful content organization resources: